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Hervé Théry
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  • 1 This selection was organized by the Swiss group New Open World Corporation (NOWC); votes were colle (...)
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1The word “Brazil” generally conjures up for European interlocutors images related to its principal tourist attractions : Brasília, the Amazon rainforest, Iguaçu Falls, or the baroque churches of Salvador da Bahia. The most famous of them, the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado mountain, overlooking the bay of Rio de Janeiro and its Sugar Loaf, was even elected one of the “new seven wonders of the world”1. The country has no less than twelve sites inscribed as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO (including Brasília, in 1987) and seven to natural heritage2.

2The country is not however a major international tourist destination. According to the World Tourism Organization, in 2012 it was 38th in the world with 5.6 million tourists (the same year France, the top world destination, received 83 million) and it was also 38th in the world for revenues, with $ 6.6 billion (the US led with $ 128 billion). Globally the whole of South America falls far behind Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, as it suffers from the distance from large sources of tourists, as well as an image of endemic violence that worries potential visitors as it competes with other similar countries : this is particularly the case with the seaside areas, a tropical beach in Brazil being much like a West Indian or Thai tropical beach.

3This does not mean that tourism plays no role in the development of the country, with a national market of 200 million people, whose standard of living and tourism spending has made huge progress in recent decades. This helped build a powerful and well developed tourism sector, of various types and in several regions of the country. The mass seaside tourism is obviously dominant, but other forms are also present : historical cities like Ouro Preto in the state of Minas Gerais ; natural sites such as fields of white dunes of Lençois Maranhenses ; farm-hotels like the sumptuous nineteenth century coffee farms in the Paraíba do Sul valley, between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Figure 1 : Brazilian tourist sites

Figure 1 : Brazilian tourist sites

From top to bottom, left to right : the bay of Rio de Janeiro, Ouro Preto (Minas Gerais), the dune fields of Lençois Maranhenses (Maranhão), nineteenth century hacienda in the Paraíba Valley (São Paulo).

Photos by Hervé Théry.

4In this issue, the first two articles analyze the situation of tourism in Brazil. The lead story shows that domestic tourism is very vigorous (59 million tourists and 190 million trips). It can be analyzed precisely through official publications, available online. They contain numerical data from which one can maps that help locate the strengths and flows.

5Anderson Pereira Portuguez and Vanda Aparecida da Silva Alves confirm the important role of national tourism in their article “The growth of the middle class of Brazil’s inland regions and its impact on domestic tourism.” Two processes explain the recent growth of the Brazilian middle class in the interior regions during the period between 1980 and 2000 : a migration to these regions in search of a better quality of life, especially in smaller towns and the increase in the “C” layer of Brazilian consumers, often called the “new middle class”.

6The following articles explore examples of tourist destinations representative of the diversity of situations in this continent-country.

7Carla and Paulo Moura Neli Aparecida de Mello-Thery study “Public policy, territorial dynamics, actors of local experiences of landscape tourism : the example of the Pantanal,” this immense wetland (140,000 square kilometers), is a paradise for bird watchers and other nature tourism enthusiasts. Their aim is to highlight the relationship between transformations in the Pantanal since becoming a tourist destination and the actions of public policy that can influence the process. Their paper therefore deals with tourism policy, its organization, its governance, its relationship with the environmental policy and it analyzes the role of these policies in Pantanal, on several scales.

8Marcos Silveira Tarlombani and Adyr Balestreri Rodrigues chose the case of Florianópolis, capital of the state of Santa Catarina, a town renowned for its outstanding landscape, where nature and urbanism come together harmoniously, and where tourism is a major sources of income. Their article, “The tourist urbanization in Brazil : the case of Florianópolis” aims to present the socio-spatial transformations promoted by the tourism in the city, in particular those arising directly from tourism development.

9Maria Helena Lenzi, in her paper, “Absences marked in space : implications of the city’s images in Florianópolis urban planning” suggests that the concept of sustainable development was used in Florianópolis in a situation where tourism is essentially under private control. This decision consolidates a hegemonic reading of the landscape, legitimized by the authorities in charge of urban and tourism. Those bodies used environmental concepts and arguments rhetorically, based on the use of the concept of “sustainable” nature (for of future generations and the biosphere itself), not only to promote the city but also to implement strategies of gentrification and expulsion of the poor and those who are not in agreement with the private parameters of what is “sustainable”.

10On a different note, complementing the typology of Brazilian cases, MCP Diomira Faria relates “Research on the art museum visitors – elements for effective management”. The article aims to study cultural tourism focusing on art museum visitors, through a socio-economic characterization of the regular visitors of the Contemporary Art Museum of Inhotim, Minas Gerais, which brings together in an area of about 100 hectares a collection of contemporary art and a botanical garden. Opened in late 2006, it received more than 250 000 visitors in 2011. Comparing these results with those of museums located in different Spanish cities, the text provides useful information for effective management of cultural enterprises in Brazil.

11In his article “From the mining area to the cachaça basin : development and culture in mining areas,” the same author draws a parallel between the north of Minas Gerais and the Nord-Pas de Calais region, in France. These regions have both experienced economic cycles based on mining, therefore the French experience could assist in the development of plans for the processing of mining sites. A regional development plan was drawn up, including of a series of proposals to minimize the negative impacts of mining, to exploit synergies between potential production and other existing alternatives. Among these is cachaça, a typical Brazilian drink (similar to West Indian rum). Cachaça produced in Minas Gerais is a recognized product of good quality and its production opens up economic alternatives, which may involve other choices for land use planning, promoting tourism and providing opportunities for economic diversification and social inclusion.

12The last chapter, “Paraty, location advantages and development of an historical heritage” focuses on the city of Paraty, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most popular tourist sites in Brazil, one of twenty top destinations in the country and one of the top five for the French and British visitors. Tourism started there only fifty years ago, the main factor in its growth being its exceptional location and the construction of new roads that led to the rediscovery and appreciation of its historical heritage, preserved by a long period of isolation.

13Without exhausting the variety of tourism in Brazil, these few cases show the diversity and the economic, social and territorial issues at stake. These texts and images are a first approach to the potentials, limitations, drive and conflicts in Brazilian tourism.

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1 This selection was organized by the Swiss group New Open World Corporation (NOWC); votes were collected worldwide by internet and free telephone calls (in total more than 100 million votes). The seven winners were presented to the public at a ceremony held July 7, 2007 in Lisbon. The Rio de Janeiro symbol entered the new list of wonders of the world along with six other sites: the Great Wall of China, the Hellenistic city of Petra in Jordan, the Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru, the Mayan city Chichen Itza in Mexico, the Coliseum in Rome and the tomb of the Taj Mahal in India.


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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1 : Brazilian tourist sites
Légende From top to bottom, left to right : the bay of Rio de Janeiro, Ouro Preto (Minas Gerais), the dune fields of Lençois Maranhenses (Maranhão), nineteenth century hacienda in the Paraíba Valley (São Paulo).
Crédits Photos by Hervé Théry.
Fichier image/jpeg, 66k
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Hervé Théry, « Editorial », Via [En ligne], 7 | 2015, mis en ligne le 01 juillet 2015, consulté le 26 juillet 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Hervé Théry

Creda, UMR7227 CNRS-Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Professor visitante, Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

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Via Tourism Review est mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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